Rakuten.com.my may only be in the local e-commerce scene for less than a month now, but it is already gaining traction, as well as being the talk of the town as the e-commerce site to look out for. Interest in Rakuten Malaysia has been steadily increasing for months now, and after a quick chat with the leading men at Rakuten, we’re convinced that that trend will carry on for quite some time.
Read on after the break for our discussion we had recently with Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani, Senior Executive Officer Toru Shimada and CEO of Rakuten Online Shopping Masaya Ueno (who will oversee Rakuten.com.my).
It may be a surprising statistic, but in 2011 alone, local online shopping amounted to RM842 million, and on average a Malaysian online shopper spends RM2461. With the increased awareness as well as greater retailer impetus, online shopping is slowly but surely drawing more Malaysians, and a trend Rakuten has been observing for a while before launching Rakuten.com.my.
According to Mikitani, the e-commerce scene in Malaysia has massive potential. Besides the government initiatives in driving e-commerce in the country, Mikitani also states a more practical reasoning for Rakuten.com.my gaining a foothold: the logistics are simply better. Rakuten.com.my has already established several shipping partners in addition to roping in all the major local banks as payment partners.
Mikitani also believes that Rakuten’s business model is perfect in Malaysian e-commerce. With its famed business model build on trust, Rakuten.com.my may take a while before customers fully embrace the concept, but it is perfect for Rakuten as it gives valuable time for them to adjust to the local market’s needs.
This trust-oriented business model is the main reasoning behind Rakuten.com.my’s initial batch of retailers. According to Masaya, Malaysians are more inclined to purchase a product online if they were buying from a trusted retailer or brand. This is also why Rakuten.com.my focuses more on local merchants with a track record of reliability and quality – which builds trust among customers.
As for the merchants themselves, selling their products on Rakuten.com.my is a wonderful opportunity to increase their brand exposure. Also, with Rakuten’s famed customer service standards being upheld, selling products on Rakuten.com.my will also give a face to otherwise nameless retailer brands. In addition, Rakuten also has e-commerce consultants who are ready to provide assistance to all merchants on Rakuten.com.my.
One of the biggest challenges in the local e-commerce scene is the concern regarding customer security. Too often have we heard from a friend of a friend who was scammed while shopping online. Or, in the case of another local e-commerce website, delivery times were frustratingly slow with a lack of proper customer service. Rakuten believes that it has the upper hand here, once again with its business model. With transparent pricing, presence of large and familiar retailers as well as a fraud prevention system, Rakuten firmly believes it will be the number one local e-commerce site in the near future.
Finally, Masaya also mentioned that there are plans to provide the opportunity for everyone to sell their products on Rakuten.com.my via an online bazaar similar to those seen in other Rakuten websites. However, they are still focusing primarily on building trust among its customers, hence they are working hard on roping in more local merchants to sell their products on Rakuten.com.my. Once that phase is complete, we may then see more Rakuten businesses coming our way, such as its travel and banking services.